As law dean search season is in full swing, I thought I'd raise some process questions which I'm sure we've discussed before at The Lounge, but some time has passed and I'm wondering if people's views have changed. Many schools, including ours, are in the process of seeking a new dean and many, if not most, are now utilizing search firms to assist them. (BTW, UH is still accepting nominations for our position if anyone is interested - info previously posted here. Please excuse the sponsored advertisement!)
So I wanted to raise the question about the benefits and detriments of using search firms in the law dean context. One obvious benefit is the maintenance of confidentiality at least at the early stages of the process - search consultants can probably gauge a potential candidate's interest more confidentially than law professors. (I may be wrong about that, but I don't know.) A search firm that is experienced at law dean searches may also have a strong sense of the field - who's available/interested and who would be a good fit for which school. One obvious downside is cost and perhaps a sense that the process is not fully in the hands of the school and its various stakeholders.
I'm interested in the thoughts of folks who have engaged in dean searches both with and without search firms as to whether the increasing use of these firms is a move in the right direction for law schools.